Lebanon News

Nasrallah calls on Bekaa supporters to work with Army

People smoke a water pipe at a coffee shop as they listen to a speech by Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah being broadcast on Hezbollah's al-Manar TV channel, in a southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday Aug. 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

BEIRUT: Hezbollah’s secretary-general Sunday called on local families of the Bekaa Valley to work with the Army to maintain law and order in the region.

“You don’t have any alternative to the Army and the security forces,” Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah told the audience during a speech televised in Al-Ain, near Baalbeck.

“People in the area must bear some responsibility by controlling their children and sympathizing with the Army’s toil and suffering.”

The Army is not “infallible,” he said, in reference to regular tensions between local families in the region and the Army.

In June, clashes broke out after Army personnel killed two men while attempting to make arrests for crimes including drug trafficking and car theft. Locals burned tires and opened fire on Army centers, leaving one soldier and two civilians wounded.

“The Lebanese Army is made up of officers and individuals who are not infallible. They may occasionally commit errors,” Nasrallah said.

After the June clashes, the Army confirmed that its members had come under “heavy fire” during a raid in the Bekaa village of Kneiseh, prompting them to respond with force.

During the raid, weapons, ammunition, stolen cars and a large amount of drugs were seized, according to an Army statement.

“We can’t call on [the Army] to intervene, and then whenever a mistake happens blame everything on the Army,” Nasrallah added.

While he called on the Army to prevent errors as much as it could, he warned that turning against it would simply benefit criminals.

“We must not blame negligence and deprivation for these crimes, when some of the crimes are committed by the rich. Some [crimes] merely come from ignorance, hatred and considerations that have nothing to do with the morality of the region,” he added.

Nasrallah called for the establishment of a development council for Baalbeck and Hermel and told attendees that Hezbollah MPs were working hard to improve the region.

But he added: “You must understand that we are facing significant obstacles because of corruption and dividing political spoils.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 26, 2019, on page 2.

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